I shouldn’t like to have to live like that. Why, a river runs by the back of this palace. I suppose palaces usually are on rivers. I’m glad I don’t have to keep a boat there.
Well, what is it you are worrying about? Who is it you are afraid of?
Hafiz el Alcolahn.
O, Hafiz. I have no fears of Hafiz. Lately
I ordered my spies to watch him no longer. Why does he hate me?
Because, most excellent master, you slew Hussein.
Slew Hussein? What is that to do with him? May I not slay whom I please?
Even so, master. Even so. But he was
His enemy, eh?
For years he had dreamed of the joy of killing Hussein.
Well, he should have done it before I came. We don’t hang over things and brood over them for years where I come from. If a thing’s to be done, it’s done.
Even so, master. Hafiz had laid his plans for years. He would have killed him and got his substance; and then, when the hour drew near, you came, and Hussein died, swiftly, not as Hafiz would have had him die; and lo! thou art the lord of the pass, and Hafiz is no more than a beetle that runs about in the dirt.
Well, so you fear Hafiz?
Not for himself, master. Nay, I fear not Hafiz. But, master, hast thou seen when the thunder is coming, but no rumble is heard and the sky is scarce yet black, how little winds run in the grass and sigh and die; and the flower beckons a moment with its head; all the world full of whispers, master, all saying nothing; then the lightning, master, and the anger of God; and men say it came without warning? [Simply.] I hear those things coming, master.
Master, it is all silent in the market. Once, when the price of turquoises was high, men abused the Shereef. When the merchant men could not sell their pomegranates for silver they abused the Shereef. It is men’s way, master, men’s way. Now it is all silent in the market. It is like the grasses with the idle winds, that whisper and sigh and die away; like the flowers beckoning to nothing. And so, master, and so . . . .